Truck Camper and Dirt bikes questions and discussion

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by upperleft, Dec 18, 2018.

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  1. upperleft

    upperleft Been here awhile

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    My girlfriend and I love to camp and we have wanted a simple truck camper for some time, a few months ago we got a dog and we knew we would need a camper or something to keep him in while we are both out riding. I found a good deal on a 2004 craft lite pop up camper in near perfect condition and picked it up a few weeks ago. I am really excited for winter to be over so I can take this thing out and do some camping. I have used my dads trailer for the past few years and he offered to sell it to me. Its a 8' utility trailer and I have a 2005 Chevy 2500 Duramax. I have some work to do but I think the camper / trailer is going to be a perfect little set up for me and girl and the dog. We like to do a mix of dual sport riding and single track around the the north west of the US. I have a few questions and would also be interested in just hearing other peoples experiences and ideas on this topic.

    1. Do the bed rail tie downs actually work? I plan on doing the rear tied down to the rear bumper but I am undecided on the front. The tie downs that fit into the bed rails seem super easy and convenient but not as strong as the frame mounted or the kind that bolt in between the bed and cab. The camper isn't very heavy I would guess around 1600 lbs. I do plan on doing some dirt roads and light 4x4 to my camping areas. Any ideas?


    2. I have some damage on the rear tie down, the previous owner said they tried to jack it up without taking of the tie down and it started to pull the tie down out. My plan is to pull back the plastic siding and cut out all of the damaged wood and patch it up with a new piece and a bunch of wood glue. Then I plan on putting a piece of angle iron down the full length of the camper to help spread the load. I feel like this should work fine. any suggestions or advice?


    3. Anyone install AC into a truck camper? All of the AC units I find for campers are for huge RVs. I just need enough to keep my dog happy when it gets hot. I would prefer something that can run off 12 v so I can use my batteries and solar rather then buying a generator.


    4. Anyone know of a product or something I should do to my canvas to keep it in good shape? Its a little stained but other then that its in perfect shape and would like to keep it that way. Not sure if I should try to use a conditioner or just leave it as is?
    #1
  2. Sootgrinder

    Sootgrinder Been here awhile

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    Truck campers and light utility trailers work really well add long as you have enough truck.we used a truck camper with our Rottweiler and Doberman, they loved it. Make sure you have load range E tires and properly inflated. You will have to drive a bit slow, and plan your stops ahead of time even with a light camper and small trailer you will be pushing the rated limits of your truck. Tie down points are often damaged by over tightening the tie downs. Your planned fix will be fine. The anchors that go down in stake pockets work fine. There are a couple ac units made just for truck campers. One of them is called a polar cub or something like that. I think they are around 8000 btu. They are small enough that they will run on single 2000 watt generator. Forget running ac on 12volt. There are a couple systems out there but they are super expensive and require way bulkier and heavier battery bank than roof top ac and generator. Ac takes lots power, and an effective 12v system just isn't practical. Though lots of guys are hung up on trying to make it work. Please reach out if you have any questions, I've got a bit of camper experience.
    Soot
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  3. scapegoat

    scapegoat Pushin forward back

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    Ive had 3 Lance 850's over the years which are around 2200 lbs IIRC an one old Caveman camper. I personally would not trust the stake pocket type camper tie downs brackets, truck beds are just to cheaply made anymore. 2 of my trucks had the Happijack front brackets and did NOT have the cross bar to frame installed. The rear used the edge of the bumper for the brackets not the side of the sheet metal bed which I think is nuts. One had the Torklift setup which was nice but to pricy. On the Happijack's I never had any issues with the bed or otherwise and did some pretty ugly roads. One item of advice is use the spring loaded turnbuckles for the front. If you get a set of Happijack's the rears are not spring loaded, but the front ones are. This gives it some fudge on bad headwinds and bouncing around preventing camper damage at tie points. For ease of loading I made a 2x4 frame of sorts that was just wider then the camper base so when loading it slid in centered and could not slide side to side at all when off roading. This really made loading it on the truck a lot easier for me.
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  4. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    I had a pop-up truck camper that was bought new from the mfg on the outskirts of denver. it was very light and full featured but I disliked the placement in and off the truck, and reality was that inspite of it's low profile it did stick up very slightly above the cab and cost lots of mpg to have it on there. They are probably most popular in the PNW now days whereas most of USA they haven't been for many years. In the 1960's/70's they wer the "thing to have".
    It will leak rain some as too many spots that have zips and even harder to rain seal than a plain old tent. If it has many features it will require a 3/4T PU truck or even a ton. I like my truck bed free for other uses so my reccomendation is to look at a well designed tent you can enjoy in wet or dry and free up the truck bed and spend the money on other stuff. They do get you into backcountry but at a price. Mine mtd directly to the bed floor and even when done properly that less than ideal IMO.
    My current tow behind RV trailer is a Lance 20'. They are one of the few brands of truck camper we see when we travel in retirement-it's a niche market. I see rigs with a $75,000 pickup and a pricey camper that requires and off/on in the CG to leave your lodging in place while you make even a simple grocery or out to eat run. If the indea was to "take it all with you into the boonies" beware of driving a heavy truck into a remote spot? Starts to make a either a tent or a trailer designed for off pavement tows make more sense?
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  5. cagiva549

    cagiva549 whats a cagiva

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    I use a free standing portable ac in my cargo trailer and absolutely love it , cost me 225 bucks , I cut a hole in the side of my trailer down low behind the axles for the exhaust , I have a hinged aluminum door that covers the vent and latches when I'm on the road and the ac won't work when I forget to unlatch the door . The a c unit sets under a shelf across the back of my trailer , has a remote control so I don't even have to get out of bed to turn it off at night when it cools off . All my experience with roof top rv units has been unsatisfactory and the cost is 5 times what I paid for mine . I would go with a window unit before a rv unit .

    If you really want to rough it a apu unit for an 18 wheeler is a diesel generator and ac compressor unit that has a condenser unit inside the truck sleeper unit they are pricey but would be air conditioner and generator built together and low rpm diesel fueled . Very nice .
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  6. tvpierce

    tvpierce Been here awhile

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    I know you already have the truck camper, but it seems to me you're going about this backwards by putting your sleeping quarters in the truck and pulling a trailer for your bikes & gear.
    I think you'd be much more comfortable with a toy-hauler travel trailer or conventional travel trailer and put the bikes in the bed of the truck.
    #6
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  7. upperleft

    upperleft Been here awhile

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    Thank you for the replies. I am not too worried about the truck handling the camper. I have a Chevy 2500 HD Duramax. It's a 3/4 ton with load range E tires. I could hardly tell it was on there when I brought it home. It might be a different story full loaded with a loaded trailer. But then again people tow a lot more with these trucks and don't have any problems. As for the bed rail tie downs I have heard a lot about the newer truck bed rails not being strong enough. My truck is a 2005 and the bed pockets look pretty strong. I think I might be getting some bed pocket tie downs for Christmas so hopefully they work out.


    I actually already have a window unit sitting in my garage that I was thinking about using. I just don't want to cut any holes, especially not the size of the window unit. Maybe I can make a stand for it and use it kind of like the stand alone units and make some sort of exhaust vent to outside. If not $225 for ac isn't bad. The cost of the generator is what is going to get me.

    I have thought a lot about going the toy hauler route but there were a few things the led me toward the truck camper. The main reason being that we don't always camp with the dirt bikes, so it would be nice to be able to go out for a weekend without having to tow a big trailer. With just the truck camper I can get just about anywhere my truck would normally go. None of our friend have campers so we tend to go places that you wouldn't be able to get most trailers. I also like towing the bikes in a trailer vs. putting them in the truck just because it is easier to load and-unload and I can load up the trailer in the garage during the week and just hook up Friday after work and I am ready to go.. I am handy with a welder so once I get my dads utility trailer I am going to start building lock boxes and adding different features like an outdoor kitchen and gear storage to make it meet my needs.
    #7
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  8. bodine003

    bodine003 Long timer

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    We all have different options/needs. 10 years with our 1979 Chevy "P"-body Alum. body. Have it set up to take 2 dirt bikes. Plus it can tow our 5x8 open trailer. We can set up sleep accommodations inside for 2. A Cobra invertor can run the microwave. It is wired for a 30 amp electric at the campground. We also can bring a generator to run the fridge and a portable AC unit. Buddy L propane heater for cold nites and a Thetford porta pottie. Our 2 Chihuahua's guard it when we are off playing. DSCN0334.JPG Bville.JPG Pbody1.JPG 67890019.jpg
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  9. cagiva549

    cagiva549 whats a cagiva

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    I don't rough it unless it's cool enough I don't need ac , I will find a back country rv park and use the shore power and bath house . Main stream mega parks , not a chance . I hate them . Maybell Colorado has a city park with electric hook ups for 20 bucks a night and the entire county to ride in . And 5 paved highways in the whole county excluding the towns . It's not a pretty place but beats the hell out of a koa . My new favorite is Shell Wyoming, the bar across the street was just my style .
    #9
  10. jgreer916

    jgreer916 Adventurer

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    If you don't get the pocket tie downs for Xmas let me know. I've got a set that I can't use with my camper and truck, the angle is wrong when they are in. I went with the Happijac system and it works great.

    John
    #10
  11. GT-Jim

    GT-Jim Adventurer

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    On our popup camper I use the Happyjack mount at the front of the box and torklift frame mounts in the rear, I don't trust the bumpers on new trucks being strong enough to use as for anchors. I use torklift spring loaded tie downs on the front and the solid (rubber cushioned) in the rear. Our travels are usually in the 2000 mile range and it has been a very secure set up. BTW, we also trailer our bike and it works great for us also, we separate the units if the sites are small (small sites are the best).

    We don't have A/C, the roof vents and fan along with all the windows seem do do fine. We do most of our camping out west or at altitude where evenings tend to cool down naturally.
    #11
  12. Olde Phart

    Olde Phart Olde Phart

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    A pop-up camper in the pickup with bikes in tow on trailer is my method of travel and it all works very nice. I'm running a '15 Hallmark K2 on a '04 Toyota Tundra (Gen 1 Double-Cab):

    IMG_20170920_1121435.jpg IMG_20170923_0833006.jpg IMG_20181012_083050.jpg IMG_20180516_193646.jpg

    Truck mods are Load Range E tires, airbags in back, heavy duty leaf springs in rear & Hellwig rear stabilizer bar for better capacity and handling. I get 10 +/- mpg most everywhere I go ...

    Quick answers to your questions are:

    1. Frame mounted tie-downs are superior to bed mounted and in particular those with some spring action to reduce flexure stress on the camper frame. I have TorkLift frame mounted tie-downs in front and bumper-button tie-down points in back (Tundras have a pretty decent steel bumper) with SpringLoadXL turnbuckles at all four points. The front are much more critical than the rear. My fronts are tensioned more than the rear by approximately 70/30%. Getting the tension right while learning how the camper shifts about in the bed took a bit of learning curve to get used to. I had the rears over-tightened where I noticed that it was causing slight deflection in the camper frame at the bolt on locations. I run them much looser in the rear now and everything is fine.

    2. Open up to base frame and reinforce appropriately. Again, the fronts are much more critical than the rears, make sure they are plenty robust.

    3. You'll need a generator and AC115v power for air conditioning. I don't use mine often, but sure like having it when I do. With just the ceiling vent fan on low, the inside tends to be 10 degrees F cooler inside than outside but there is no being inside without AC once into the 90s. My unit is a Coleman and will bring the inside to 73F when over 100F outside on a Honda EU2000 generator. Fuel consumption when running the AC is about 1/3 gal./hr. so the little Honda's 1 gal. gas tank will go for about 3 to 3-1/2 hrs. on a tank.

    4. Moisture and sunlight are your biggest environmental factors with the moisture being mostly in your control. Keep 'er dried out well. For storage and transport, make sure your folds are good, apply duct tape or similar at wear spots and hose/wash off the dust and sand on the outside occasionally. Accumulated grime is a great abrasive as you go bouncing down the road ...

    Best attributes of this setup is being able to get further back than most for better privacy and spontaneity when boondocking in public lands. I'll soon be traveling/living in mine full time as I travel and ride in '19 ... hoping to meet and ride with many an inmate or two on my journeys looking for another place to hang my helmet.

    Good traveling, camping and riding to ya!
    #12